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Creating More and Better Alternatives for Decisions Using Objectives

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The quality of alternatives is crucial for making good decisions. This research, based on five empirical studies of important personally relevant decisions, examines the ability of decision makers to create alternatives for their important decisions and the effectiveness of different stimuli for improving this ability. For decisions for which the full set of potentially desirable alternatives is not readily apparent, our first study indicates that decision makers identify less than half of their alternatives and that the average quality of the overlooked alternatives is the same as those identified. Four other studies provide insight about how to use objectives to stimulate the alternative-creation process of decision makers and confirm with high significance that such use enhances both the number and quality of created alternatives. Using results of the studies, practical guidelines to create alternatives for important decisions are presented.
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... Keeney also argues that by initially focusing on objectives, the decision makers could find more and better alternatives as well as more efficient criteria to evaluate the alternatives (Siebert & Keeney, 2015). Mapping values into objectives and using them to create new and better alternatives is the approach suggested by Keeney and named Value-Focused Thinking (VFT) (Keeney, 1992(Keeney, , 1996Siebert, 2016). ...
... Although Keeney provides some guidelines for adoption of VFT (Keeney, 1992(Keeney, , 1996Siebert & Keeney, 2015), VFT lacks a more systematic and repeatable structure (Parnell et al., 2013) similar to other PSMs, such as SSM (Checkland, 1981;Georgiou, 2015) and SCA (Friend & Hickling, 2005). Keeney's texts (especially his book) focus on competencies and behavioural aspects for the analyst to achieve the objectives through stakeholder values. ...
Article
Value-Focused Thinking (VFT) is used in many situations to identify and structure value-based objectives. VFT shares motivations with the consolidated field of Operations Research (OR), called Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs). This study presents a historical outline of the origins of PSMs and how VFT fits into the literature. The procedures adopted involve a literature review on VFT applications. The results confirmed that VFT is applied in problematic situations in which PSMs are used without a definite framework. The structure adopted for VFT varies between 2 and 10 steps. The contribution of this study is to promote a dialogue with the related literature and demonstrate how the VFT is used in the PSM field. In addition, based on an analysis of the most frequently adopted practices in the literature, we present a systematic structure of VFT in four stages that makes it more similar to the traditional PSM.
... A shortage of alternative options is a challenge that many pharmaceutical companies face. Using objectives as prompts has proven valuable to strengthen the ability to create more and better alternatives to address this problem (Siebert & Keeney, 2015;Siebert, 2016). ...
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Pharmaceutical companies have frequent portfolio reviews to monitor development progress and prioritize development assets. The earliest assets are drug candidates whose efficacy is unknown and whose effects on the human body have yet to be fully investigated. These assets are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty in reaching the market and in being used in clinical practice. In addition, not all potential applications are foreseen and can often be very different. In the absence of satisfactory methods for making decisions on resource allocation among early development assets, decision makers focus almost exclusively on assessments of an asset’s probability of technical success. This study proposes a more holistic methodology to support early-stage pharmaceutical development decisions using value-focused thinking and multicriteria decision making. The methodology operates within the decision quality framework and provides a consistent evaluation of various early development assets across a diverse set of disease areas. This combination of concepts and methodologies has been implemented and proven valuable at Bayer Pharmaceuticals, which needed a new, more robust decision-making process for early development. Thus, this study discusses how to enable concrete trade-offs at the level of corporate objectives to align, communicate, and translate corporate strategy into portfolio strategy. In addition, this study presents learnings for decision analysts and decision makers in the pharmaceutical industry on how to develop a set of fundamental objectives, how to create scales to operationalize these objectives, and how to take steps to debias an organizational decision-making process.
... On the contrary, cardinality without constraints does not restrict the number of chosen alternatives or assignments to each decision class. The type of set of alternatives (c.1.2) can then also be chosen, being either stable (i.e., no new alternatives are foreseen and added to the set) or incremental (i.e., new alternatives keep arriving as the decision context evolves) (Siebert and Keeney 2015). The assumption that we applied in the development of the MCDA-MSS database is that methods that handle an incremental set of alternatives can also handle one with a stable set. ...
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Chapter
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Brainstorming can be a useful technique to create alternatives for complex decisions. To enhance the quality and innovativeness of the created alternatives, value-focused brainstorming incorporates two features of value-focused thinking into the traditional brainstorming procedures. First, it explicitly identifies the valued aspects of potential alternatives, specified as distinct objectives, to guide brainstormers to create alternatives of greater value. Second, all participants in a brainstorm individually create alternatives prior to any anchoring on group discussions, which will enhance getting the full range of each individual's thoughts articulated. Concepts and procedures of the approach are discussed. A public policy application, done to address recommendations following the World Trade Center disaster, illustrates the approach by creating alternatives to improve emergency evacuation of individuals from large buildings.
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In a couple of classical studies, Keeney proposed two sets of variables labelled as value‐focused thinking (VFT) and alternative‐focused thinking (AFT). Value‐focused thinking (VFT), he argued, is a creative method that centres on the different decision objectives and how as many alternatives as possible may be generated from them. Alternative‐focused thinking (AFT), on the other hand, is a method in which the decision maker takes notice of all the available alternatives and then makes a choice that seems to fit the problem best. The impact of these two methods on idea generation was measured using a sample of employees. The results revealed that employees in the value‐focused thinking condition (VFT) produced fewer ideas. Thus, value‐focused thinking (VFT) is not only able to facilitate ideation fluency but also to constrain it. Factors such as cognitive effort and motivation may play a part here. However, the quality of the ideas was judged to be higher in terms of creativity and innovativeness. Hence, value‐focused thinking (VFT) seems to have a positive impact on the quality of ideas in terms of creativity and innovativeness regardless of ideation fluency. Implications for the design of idea management systems are discussed.
Chapter
In this paper the initial phase of decision processes is conceptualized as the development of a structural representation of relevant knowledge. Goals are viewed as playing an important role in representing decision problems when they have some specific content and are not purely formal (e. g., maximize SEU). A network model is proposed far the representation of goals and actions, and several assumptions are made regarding the spread of activation through the network. In an experiment, hypotheses about the effects of two factors were investigated: Goal explidtness (E) was varied by presenting to Ss goal hierarchies of different specificity (one to three levels), and goal importance (R) was varied by letting Ss either rank-order goals with respect to their personal priorities, or not The results show that the number of actions generated increases with the degree of goal explidtness, thus supporting the Ss creative search process, whereas the number of actions is lower for Ss who focus on their own values compared to Ss who do not, thus pointing to ego involvement as a factor restricting creativity. On the other hand, the actions generated by the personally involved group were rated higher on goal achievement scales than the actions generated by the other group. The results are in accordance with the model which, however, needs elaboration.
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The development of creative alternatives that have the potential to create high value for the organization is one of the most important tasks of the decision analyst. This chapter identifies the characteristics of a good set of alternatives. The decision analyst’s goal is to create a small set of alternatives that are feasible, complete, compelling, and diverse. The chapter presents the obstacles to creating a good set of alternatives. James Adams posits a series of conceptual blocks that he defines as "mental walls that block the problem-solver from correctly perceiving a problem or conceiving its solution". These blocks as adapted from Adams can be summarized as follows: perceptual blocks, emotional blocks, cultural and environmental blocks, intellectual and expressive blocks. The chapter discusses the expansive and reductive phases of generating a good set of alternatives. It provides the suggestions for improving the alternative set. Controlled Vocabulary Termsdecision analysis
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Decision analysis stands on a foundation of hundreds of years of philosophical and practical thought about uncertainty and decision-making. The accomplishments and promise of the field are impressive, yet it has not become commonplace even in very important decisions. While human nature may pose an ultimate limitation, maintaining clarity of concept and exploiting progress in the realms of scope, skill, and efficiency should lead to more widespread use. A central conceptual distinction is that between normative and descriptive views of decision-making. We discuss the importance of maintaining this distinction in the face of attempts to compromise. The procedures for formulating, eliciting, evaluating, and appraising the decision problem are all experiencing major improvements. The strategy-generation table helps in finding creative alternatives. Decision quality concepts permit us to assure both effectiveness and efficiency in analyzing decision problems. The influence diagram provides new clarity to the conversation between decision-maker and analyst, allowing representations that are both easily understandable and mathematically consistent. The clarity test makes sure we know what we are talking about regardless of what we are saying about it. Direct and indirect values illuminate preferences. Generic risk attitude considerations indicate how to relate corporate risk tolerance to the financial measures of the corporation. Spreadsheet, decision tree, and influence diagram programs speed evaluation. Intelligent decision systems realized in computers offer promise of providing the benefits of decision analysis on a broader scale than ever before. Decision analysis is now poised for a breakthrough in its usefulness to human beings.
Subjects were asked to list as many choices as they could in response to typical problems of personal choice. Seven conditions were compared with respect to the number of choices generated. In three conditions, subjects were told what the decision maker's objectives might be, and were asked to think of choices that might satisfy these objectives. In two conditions subjects were shown examples of possible choices, either organized in categories or listed randomly. Two control conditions were used. All subjects responded to the same pretest problem, then responded to two test problems. When the objectives were presented to subjects one at a time, the number of choices was greater than in other conditions; among the other conditions, however, there were no differences in overall number of choices. The two conditions in which examples were shown did produce more choices related to the examples. These results may be useful for helping a person to generate a complete list of alternatives when using formal methods of decision analysis.